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Paddy Jackson's move to France could be about to pay off big style - reports

By Liam Heagney
Paddy Jackson before his Ulster exile (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Paddy Jackson’s career-saving move to France is quickly set to pay off. The sacked Ireland international is reportedly poised to switch from relegation-threatened Perpignan to better-resourced Top 14 club next summer.

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Jackson and Stuart Olding dramatically had their Ulster contracts terminated by the IRFU last April following the controversy stoked by their involvement in the high profile Belfast rape trial.

Both were found not guilty of the court charges laid against them, but Irish rugby authorities believed the pair had still brought they sport into disrepute and the union tore up their contracts following a series of street protests around Ireland.

Jackson – who is currently ranked by the RugbyPass Index (RPI) as the 79th best flyhalf worldwide – was initially thought to be England bound, with Sale Sharks on the radar. However, he was instead snapped up by Perpignan on a two-year deal that has a release clause at the end of the first season next summer which enables rivals teams to buy out the final year of the deal.

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The newly-promoted Catalan club are struggling in the Top 14, losing all 10 matches so far and trailing Agen, the second worst team, by nine points.

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This struggle has opened the door for Jackson to consider his options and a Midi Olympique newspaper report on Monday revealed he was at Stade de Gerland last Thursday for talks with Lyon.

The anticipated departure of French out-half Lionel Beauxis to Oyonnax has eighth-place Lyon in the market for an international calibre play-maker. Jackson, who has fitted in well to the Top 14 scene despite Perpignan’s losing streak, is on their recruitment radar and a decision is expected in the next few weeks.

Jackson was Perpignan’s only scorer in their latest defeat at the weekend, scoring four of his six penalty attempts in their 12-16 home loss to defending champions Castres.

He is the league’s third highest scorer this season, his 89 points just six behind top scorer Gaetan Germain of Grenoble.

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Jackson’s early success in France mirrors the progress of former Ulster and Ireland teammate Olding. The centre joined the Jeremy Davidson-coached Brive in May on a one-year deal that was quickly extended to two in October by the PRO D2 leaders.

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